MADRID, Spain - No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova fought past a determined Lesia Tsurenko in three sets to kick off her Mutua Madrid Open campaign, 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2.
“Maybe it's better that I won it in this way, not in the way where I wanted to win, like 6-2, 6-2,” Pliskova said in her post-match press conference. “Maybe it's better that I got little bit through this difficult situation, not really feeling well on the court, not having my serve always there.
“It's important win. Every first round, it's tough, doesn't matter which surface is that. For me, so far little bit struggling on the clay.”
After breaking early to go up 5-2 in the opening set, Pliskova found herself unable to close it out as Tsurenko denied her set point after set point.
The Ukrainian refused to fade away and reeled off three games in a row to level the score and then stayed toe-to-toe with the World No.3 to force a tiebreaker. She got ahead a minibreak at 4-2 – her first lead of the match – but Pliskova wiped her advantage and brought out back-to-back aces to get back in front and take the opening set.
Pliskova opened the second set with a commanding break, but the tide turned quickly in Tsurenko’s favor. She broke Pliskova straight back and took advantage of a letdown in the Czech’s game to snatch away the set.
The joy didn’t last too long for Tsurenko, however, as Pliskova was right back on track in the third. She raised her level considerably to break three times and put an end to the match after just under two hours and ten minutes.
“I’m not really happy with the way how I was playing,” Pliskova admitted. “Definitely the best was the third set. I was playing more aggressive, which [my coach] David told me to play a little bit more aggressive. Otherwise, I was losing all the long rallies.
“It was tough. I just cannot play like this with the girls. Not really good serve today. So not really many free points. In the third set was better. But still everything through the second…
“I have the feeling everyone is playing quite well against me. I guess that's normal.”
She’ll take on the winner between Zhang Shuai and Anastasija Sevastova for a spot in round 3.